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Clipper Race comes to London

The Clipper Race's Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Boris Johnson take to the water at Tower Bridge. Photo: Chris Paxton

London has already hosted football’s Champions League final and basketball’s Euroleague final in the last few weeks. Coming up soon is the Global Champions Tour equestrian event in Stratford. And now, Londoners with an interest in sailing have their own event to look forward to – on September 1st, the capital will be hosting the start of the 2013/14 Clipper Race.

The last race started in Southampton in 2011, accompanied by HMS Illustrious. Credit: Clipper Ventures

The news that London will host the start was announced today by mayor Boris Johnson and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who was the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.

The race features 12 boats which will be setting off from London on their way round the globe – a voyage that will last around eleven months. At the start, each boat will have around 20 crew on board for the first leg of the race which goes to Brest in France and then on to Recife in Brazil. It's expected that over 100,000 people will line the banks of the Thames to see the boats set off from St. Katharine Docks next to Tower Bridge.

Don't fall in! London's mayor uses Sir Robin for support on the bow of a Clipper boat. Credit: Chris Paxton

The race start is the last chance for friends and families of the crew to wish us luck before we navigate our way up the Thames and head for France. It’s going to be a large party with a lot of heartfelt goodbyes, especially for those of us who won't come back to the UK until July 2014.

Large crowds turned out to watch the 2011 race start. Credit: Clipper Ventures

As for the crews, planning is well underway. Some of my teammates are arranging extra training for us, some are sorting out finances while I had to collate suggestions for the all-important team song (still to be decided). We are also choosing our sailing kit – a complicated business where I have had lots of advice. As a round-the-worlder, I will be sailing in conditions ranging from an Australian summer to a Chinese winter so I need lots of clothes. But there is a weight limit of 20kg so if I overpack, I will be told to leave some of it behind. At least with a race start in London, I can jump on the Tube and drop it back off home – unlike some of my crewmates who will have flown in from around the world.

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